(FreedomBeacon.com)- Big Tech companies are apparently drawing down on their censorship teams following a large losing streak in court battles, along with waning popularity of the censorship practices and massive layoffs.
The New York Times reported on this shift earlier this week. It cited the fact that YouTube cut two of its five policy experts on “hate speech and harassments” recently, while also removing the same number of misinformation experts. The video sharing platform also reduced its response and policy enforcement teams.
This all comes as Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube, laid around about 12,000 employees in the year’s first month.
Twitter has cut back staff significantly ever since Elon Musk bought the company and took it private. In November of last year, Musk laid off about half of Twitter’s 8,000 employees, which followed him firing many of the executives who were responsible for what ended up being some of the most controversial decisions regarding content moderation.
That list of executives includes Vijaya Gadde, the former head of Legal Policy, Trust and Safety who played a large part in the final decision to permanently ban former President Donald Trump from the site.
In commenting to The Times recently, Angelo Carusone, who serves as the president of the non-profit organization Media Matters for America – which leans heavily liberal – said:
“I wouldn’t say the war is over, but I think we’ve lost key battles. I do think we, as a society, have lost the appetite to keep battling, and that means we will lose the war.”
Big Tech companies are also facing a lot of pressure from outside voices to institute some accountability for the major influence they’re exercising over their own policies regarding content moderation.
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, this week announced he would be initiating an investigation into the recommendation algorithms social media companies have that ultimately “restrict the visibility of high-profile conservative accounts.”
Cruz made that announcement in a letter he wrote to TikTok, Twitter, Google and Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook. The letter read:
“Taken as a whole, these systems have an outsized impact – whether positive or negative – on the reach of content and accounts and, by extension, speech.”
Despite the reduction in staff and the lower public appetite for content moderation, Big Tech companies haven’t changed their internal mindsets about policies regarding misinformation.
While testifying before the House Oversight Committee recently, Yoel Roth – the one-time head of the Office of Trust and Safety at Twitter – said the platform’s censorship policies actually resulted in more, and not less, speech.
“Again and again, we saw the speech of a small number of abusive users drive away countless others. Unrestricted free speech, paradoxically, results in less speech, not more. It was our job in Trust and Safety to try to strike an appropriate balance.”
When Meta announced last month that it would reinstate Trump to their social media platforms, the company’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, said it was “both necessary and possible to draw a line between content that is harmful and should be removed, and content that, however distasteful or inaccurate, is part of the rough and tumble of life in a free society.”